Hiker pushed off large cliff

A hiker was pushed off a 12-metre cliff and fell into a lake at Thetis Lake Regional Park on Vancouver Island.

A 29-year-old woman was hiking near a cliff face at about 3:30 p.m. on Sunday when she encountered a group of three women she didn't know.

As the 29-year-old peered over the cliff, someone pushed her, causing her to plummet 12 metres into the water below.

According to police, the group of women were reportedly drinking alcohol at the time. The Caucasian women were all between 20 and 30 years old and they were wearing bathing suits. 

"Fortunately the victim was able to swim to shore and later received medical attention for her injuries," said Cpl. Chris Dovell of the West Shore RCMP. 

Police are now asking for witnesses to come forward. They would like to a speak with a man who offered to help the woman after she was pushed.


Accused of posing as cop

Charges have been laid against a Surrey man who is accused of impersonating a police officer in an attempt to obtain money from an elderly couple.

RCMP say they received a report of a man posing as an undercover police officer and telling a couple he was investigating counterfeit money.

Mounties say he defrauded the couple over two days but officers were able to identify a suspect with surveillance video.

Harmit Johal, 42, has been charged with one count of impersonating a peace officer and two counts of fraud.

Surrey Sgt. Chad Greig says the public needs to know police never contact or solicit anyone to see if their money is counterfeit.

Greig says police should be contacted immediately to verify any suspicious requests for cash.

Vegan food a human right?

An Ontario firefighter alleges his human rights were violated when he was not provided sufficient vegan food while battling a massive blaze in British Columbia.

Adam Knauff has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario against his employer, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, over his treatment and subsequent suspension while fighting a fire near Williams Lake in 2017.

"The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry discriminated against me and failed to accommodate my sincerely held ethical beliefs (creed) when it failed to provide me with food that accommodated my personal commitment to ethical veganism, and then disciplined me and suspended me because I attempted to assert my right to accommodation of that sincerely held ethical belief," he wrote in his application to the tribunal.

The ministry, in its response, denied Knauff's allegations of discrimination and human rights violations.

The case centres on whether veganism is a form of creed — the definition of which was expanded by the Human Rights Tribunal in 2015 to include non-secular beliefs.

Knauff, based in Kenora, Ont., has worked with the ministry since 2008 and is often dispatched outside the province. He filed the complaint based on the grounds that his creed was not accommodated.

"I am an ethical vegan in that I not only follow a vegan diet, but I extend the philosophy of non-consumption of animal products to all other areas of my life," he wrote. "I do not think that humans have the moral right to oppress other beings, or to cause them pain and suffering."

Knauff, now 40, arrived in northern B.C. on July 15, 2017, and was one of about 1,000 firefighters battling a massive forest fire — working 14 to 16 hours per day.

About 10,000 homes were evacuated in Williams Lake, and the only store open was a Tim Hortons that police were helping run, he wrote in his complaint. He said the ministry had long known about his dietary constraints, and he had also filled out a standard food information form for the trip.

"On some days during my deployment to Williams Lake, I was not provided with any food that was vegan or not otherwise contaminated with animal products, and therefore forced to go hungry," he wrote.

On July 16, he ate salad and side dishes. The next day, he wrote, there were no vegan meals, so he ate plain bagels and coffee from Tim Hortons. The day after that he was given "beans, oatmeal and fruits."

"After working 16-hour days for four days with inadequate nutrition I began to feel physically ill and mentally groggy," Knauff wrote. "Until that point I had been trying to push through my hunger and exhaustion, sustaining myself on nuts and fruits."

He complained to the supervisor who said he'd "work on it," the documents say.

On July 20, he wrote: "The only source of protein in my dinner was a single black bean." The next two days he had "inadequate dinners."

He asked for personnel to buy tofu during one of their service runs. He got three blocks of tofu, gave it to the camp's chef, but never saw it again, he wrote.

Things came to a head on July 23 when he was looking forward to a big barbecue dinner, where vegan burgers would be served.

But, he wrote, the chef handled beef patties before touching the vegan patties with the same gloved hands.

Knauff said he swore at the chef, who swore back. His supervisor gave him a warning, he wrote.

"No one seemed to take my ethical beliefs seriously," he wrote.

The next night at dinner, he was served stir-fry with no protein. He was promised beans the following day, he wrote.

He took his plate to his supervisor and asked him if he could see any protein on his plate. The supervisor offered him protein bars.

"I was upset and told him 'no,'" and then he told him — with a curse word — to fix the problem.

"I know that I should not have sworn ... but I was starving, exhausted, humiliated and defeated," he wrote. "I had reached my breaking point."

But the real breaking point came the next day when he picked up his lunch, where, he alleged, half of the food was non-vegan.

He poured it out in front of food staff and said, repeatedly, "this isn't vegan."

That's when his supervisor sent him home.

The ministry says Knauff was sent home and suspended three days without pay due to his "inappropriate, insubordinate, unprofessional and aggressive behaviour." He was also banned from fighting fires outside the province for the remainder of 2017 and all of 2018. The ministry also alleges Knauff threw the non-vegan food at staff, which Knauff denies.

Base camp was difficult for all involved, as they were trying to feed 1,000 firefighters with the closest towns with open stores hours away, the ministry says.

It also argues that Knauff's "vegan status is a sincerely held lifestyle choice, but does not meet the legal definition of creed." It further argues that it "supported the employee and accommodated his food restrictions as if it were a component of his health needs or part of a recognized creed."

BC crews sent to help Alta.

Over 260 BC Wildfire Service firefighters are being sent to Alberta to help battle a large wildfire.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the Chuckegg Creek fire is about five kilometres from a northern Alberta town.

Starting Wednesday, the BC Wildfire Service is sending 267 personnel to Alberta. Of the 267, there will be 10 initial attack crews and 10 unit crews, three agency representatives, a 19-person incident management team and 14 supervisors.

The fire has been burning for several days, but grew substantially from Sunday, when it covered about 25,000 hectares, to an estimated 69,000 hectares on Monday.

Nearly 5,000 people have been told to leave High Level, as well as the Bushe River Reserve due to the blaze.

“The BC Wildfire Service recognizes the importance of sharing firefighting resources given the invaluable assistance Alberta has provided to B.C. during the last two wildfire seasons, which were the worst in the province's history,” said fire information officer Kyla Fraser.

Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, which co-ordinates the mutual sharing of firefighting resources between B.C. and other jurisdictions, requested the BC Wildfire Service's assistance.

All associated costs are covered by the jurisdiction that requested the resources.

Feds aim at drugged drivers

The federal government is boosting funding to help British Columbia police officers recognize drug-impaired drivers, months after it legalized recreational cannabis.

Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair announced funding of $10.1 million over five years to increase the number of officers trained in field sobriety testing and drug recognition.

Blair told reporters at a news conference at the Vancouver Police Department that those who believe they aren't impaired after consuming cannabis are dangerously misinformed and they will be caught.

The funding is part of $81 million announced by the Canadian government for provinces and territories to support road safety and other public initiatives.

The Canadian Press has canvassed police forces across the country and many reported no noticeable spike in stoned driving since legalization, including the Vancouver Police Department.

Many police departments have expressed wariness about using the only government-approved roadside test, the Drager DrugTest 5000, over concern about how its results will hold up in court.

Drager has defended its test, saying it was never designed to test for impairment, but to identify the presence of THC, the chemical responsible for the high in cannabis, and it's just one tool of many that police use to assess road safety.

Officer charged in collision

A Vancouver Police officer has been charged with dangerous driving causing bodily harm after an investigation by B.C.’s police watchdog.

Const. Luke Bokenfohr has been charged for a collision May 18, 2018 between a police vehicle and cyclist in Vancouver's West Side.

The case was investigated by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), which recommended charges to Crown counsel.

Bokenfohr's first appearance is scheduled for June 4 in Vancouver

Gas price answers wanted

B.C.'s independent energy regulator will have the power to call oil company representatives as witnesses into an investigation of high gasoline prices in the province.

Premier John Horgan has tasked the B.C. Utilities Commission to examine the market factors that affect wholesale and retail gas prices, and he wants a report by Aug. 30.

Gas prices hovering around $1.70 per litre in the Metro Vancouver area have been the highest in Canada for several months.

Horgan says he's given the utilities commission broad terms of reference to conduct a fair and transparent investigation that would include concerns about competition and why recent gas refining margins for Vancouver have been more than double the Canadian average.

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson has been calling on the New Democrats to reduce provincial gas taxes and has applied to participate in the investigation as an intervener.

Horgan says in a statement the terms of reference give the utilities commission the reach to investigate price fixing and gouging and to make recommendations.

2nd charged in 2017 murder

A second person has been charged in connection to the 2017 Surrey murder of Kiran Dhesi.

CTV News reports the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has announced a charge of accessory after the fact of murder against 53-year-old Manjit Kaur Deo, the mother of accused killer Harjot Singh Deo.

Harjot, 21, was charged with second-degree murder just over a week ago. He and Dhesi dated in the past.

Dhesi was a 19-year-old college student when her body was found in a burning vehicle in 2017, devastating her family and friends. Police said the young woman, whose full given name was Bhavkiran, was never involved in any kind of gang activity.

with files from CTV Vancouver

Horses may get the boot

Supporters of Victoria's horse-drawn carriages plan a rally on Thursday after learning city councillors have asked staff to examine phasing out the industry.

A council decision last week asked staff to consider the effect of phasing out horse-drawn carriage businesses by 2023.

Donna Friedlander, spokeswoman for the industry and also the owner-operator of Tally-Ho Carriage Tours, says the council request is shocking.

She says the city reached a renewed, five-year agreement with carriage companies in 2018 and her business responded by investing in a new barn for its animals, while Victoria Carriage Tours purchased new horses.

Friedlander says the industry brings considerable tourism revenue to the region because, for many visitors, a horse-drawn ride through Victoria's streets is on their bucket list.

The rally is set for 5:30 p.m., Thursday, outside city hall.

Coun. Ben Isitt has floated the idea of electric carriages but Friedlander says tourists choose carriage rides specifically because of the horses.

"It's a bucket list item for people, of things to do. And we really want to make sure that, you know, we're not a transportation company," she says.

"We're not getting people from Point A to Point B, we're giving people experiences with these horses, and that's really what people are looking for."

Electric carriages cost about $35,000 each, Friedlander says, and she believes there is little demand for them, adding she will shut down her company if Victoria tries to enforce how she runs it.

"Nobody's in this business because we want to drive a carriage. We're in this business because we love horses," she says.

Big ferry lines, delays

Ferry customers on south and central Vancouver Island are experiencing some delays this morning with ticketing problems at the Swartz Bay terminal and a mechanical issue with a vessel on the Duke Point-Tsawwassen run.

Technical problems at the Swartz Bay terminal are delaying ticket sales at both the vehicle and foot passenger booths for Salt Spring Island, the Southern Gulf Islands and Tsawwassen, according to B.C. Ferries.

The ferry corporation says its IT department is investigating.

Meanwhile, the Queen of Alberni on the Duke Point-Tsawwassen run is an hour behind schedule due to a mechanical issue. Engineers are working to repair the problem.

For updates, go to the B.C. Ferries website or call 1-888-223-3779.

Cindy E. Harnett / Victoria Times Colonist

Aerial view of massive slide

Aerial images show the massive after-effects of a pair of landslides near Pemberton last week.

The slides decimated the northeast slope of Joffre Peak.

The first landslide occurred May 13 at 7:40 a.m., affecting the Cerise Creek area and ending on the flats just south of Cayoosh Creek and Highway 99, north of Pemberton.

"Debris appears to have spanned 500-850 metres in width and travelled a total distance of roughly 5.2 kilometres," a BC Parks spokesperson told Pique.

Then, a second slide occurred May 16 on the same side of the mountain, effectively shearing off a wide swath of the prominent face.

Longtime volunteer spotter with the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, Wilfried Braun accepted CASARA pilot Daniel Jun's invitation to head up for a bird's eye view on Saturday.

"It's more and more impressive when you see it with your own eyes," said Braun. The damage, he added, "was obviously more devastating than expected."

Following the slides, experts told Pique the hiking trail in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, located on the opposite side of the mountain to the slides, remained unaffected.

Though debris appears to be falling into Upper Joffre Lake in one shot captured by Braun, he estimates that's the result of normal springtime activity—but adds that this year's activity, by his estimates, might have resulted in slightly more debris falling into the lake than usual.

"In the spring, when the snow starts to melt there's little slides here and there," explained Braun. "It seems like it's a constant crumbling coming down (into the lake), it's just the opposite side of the slide, so there's obviously something going on there.

"It's hard to judge it that way, but it looks interesting from that angle, that's for sure," he added.

Megan Lalonde / Pique Newsmagazine

Ambulance in pileup

A collision involving an ambulance sent five people to hospital in Vancouver overnight.

The multi-vehicle crash shut down the intersection at Oak Street and West 12th Avenue near Vancouver General Hospital for several hours, CTV News reports.

A patient inside the ambulance, three paramedics, and the driver of a Honda Civic were all taken to hospital as a precaution. 

It's believed the ambulance had its lights and sirens activated when it was struck by the Honda. The impact sent the ambulance into a third vehicle.

– with files from CTV Vancouver

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